Call it a jumbo freeway, literally. In a bid to prevent elephants getting hit by speeding trains, railways and the forest department are jointly creating a ramp on either side of the track passing through Solakkarai beat, Madukkarai range, Coimbatore.
The tracks are placed on a slightly higher plane. While crossing over, the elephants get hit because the step-like structure impedes their movement and slows them down thereby increasing the chance of getting hit by speeding trains.
The ramps being created on trial basis will facilitate easier movement for the pachyderms thus reducing the probability of collisions.
A forest officer said work to construct the ramp began more than a fortnight ago. Thick vegetation around the track was being cleared and the elevated outer space along the tracks levelled by filling it up with sand and debris. Before this work, the elephants had to climb a gradient as steep as 10 meter and again another couple of meters to reach the track.
The move will help the loco pilots to have a clear view and they can slow down if necessary. At present, it has been agreed to maintain a speed of 45kmph at night and around 60 kmph during the day, railway sources said.
A researcher from the World Wide Fund for Nature – India said it was surprising as to why a few individual elephants crossed the tracks at Solakkarai to reach the forest on the other side. A thorough study was needed on why the individual animals take this path to go to the small forest patch on the other side.